Viking’s South America & Chilean Fjords Cruise (12/17/22 – 1/06/23)

Viking’s South America & Chilean Fjords Cruise (12/17/22 – 1/06/23)

I know a lot of folks have been waiting for me to post this, along with a blog post on our Antarctica Cruise. Sorry for the delay. We’ve had a lot going on recently. So, without further delay……

Our trip began in Valparaíso, Chile, which is along the coast of the South Pacific Ocean, 75 miles NW of Santiago. Valparaíso is the second largest metropolitan area in Chile. It is one of the most important seaports in the Pacific Ocean.

The city is shaped like a steep natural amphitheater, with colorful houses rising from the water’s edge, through the hills.

We strolled around Plaza Sotomayor, where the naval headquarters building and the monument to the heroes of Iquique are located. You can see the naval headquarters in the photo below. It is the building in the center, set back in the square. Directly in front of the headquarters are a number of tents, housing some street vendors and then the monument is in front of those tents. Our Viking tour bus made a stop in the square so that we could browse around for a short time. As I prepared to get off the bus the tour guide advised that I be very careful with my camera. When I got off the bus another guide told me the same thing. Then, as we passed a very nice vendor on a corner he called me over and told me to please hold onto the camera very tightly while walking around. I’ll point out here that there were two heavily armed policemen standing up on the monument platform and there were naval officers walking in and out of the headquarters. Apparently, these are not a concern of the local thieves. After being warned three times I told Charlie I was done touring this area and headed back to the bus.

Before getting on the bus though, I felt compelled to take at least one photo of the neighborhood with my camera. LOL.

Valparaíso is a city of two halves. There is Los Cerros, known as the city of hills, and Viña del Mar, a sophisticated resort area. Our bus tour took us on a drive through the city of hills. We ended up at a lookout point where we found some wonderful street vendors. Nearby, there was a man and a cat taking it easy with a colorful background. Seemed like a good photo op….

The lookout point wasn’t really anything to write home about, but I feel obliged to share the view with you :-), especially since it has our cruise ship (Viking Jupiter) in the picture.

From there we toured the resort area of Vina del Mar. We made a photo stop at the flower clock landmark. This fully functioning botanical clock was built for the 1962 World Cup.

Our last stop was at the Museum of Archaeology and History Francisco Fonk. In short, it is a small museum that aims to deliver a summary of Chilean Prehistory, Ethnography, and Natural History. It also houses a notable collection on the Rapa Nui culture (inhabitants of Easter Island), beginning with an authentic Moai (monumental statue) located in front of the museum. Easter island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 Moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people.

On day 2 of our cruise we sailed the South Pacific Ocean, towards Puerto Montt, Chile. The seas were a bit rough so we ate ginger candy and drank a few ginger ales. I didn’t have any problem with seasickness until I decided to do some work on my computer. After that, I was nauseated for hours. That was the end of computer use or reading while sailing the high seas.

Our first port of call was Puerto Montt, Chile. We signed up for an all-day tour which included a bus ride to Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park where we boarded a small boat and toured All Saints Lake, also known as Emerald Lake. I wish the skies had been clear, as the scenery is gorgeous. The clouds never fully broke away from the nearby Osorno volcano.

Following our Emerald Lake cruise we stopped to view the Petrohué Rapids. The blue rapids flow over black lava rock and are set against a backdrop of the Osorno volcano.

Lastly, we had a wonderful lunch in the German traditional town of Puerto Varas. This is a nice resort town, sitting on the shore of Lake Llanquihue.

On our return drive to Puerto Montt, I spotted this police car. Remember the story about the thieves appearing to not be worried about the police taking action in the Plaza Sotomayor? Well, it would appear that the police are afraid of criminals. Yikes! Even the front windshield is covered with bars.

I got the feeling that I really don’t need to return to Chile.

We had some rough seas as we departed Puerto Montt.

For the next two days, we sailed through the Chilean Fjords. I really wish we had better weather, although it could have been worse. This is such a beautiful area. It is full of snowy peaks, blue glaciers, and waterfalls. These waters are sheltered, and therefore, quite calm, which was very nice. Along the way, the captain brought the ship close to Amalia Glacier. This glacier originates in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

(The following photos are in a slideshow. Just scroll to the right to view them.)

On our 6th day, we landed in Punta Arenas, Chile. Punta Arenas sits on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan, named after the Portuguese explorer who pioneered the sea route around South America in 1520. The city has been, and still is, a gateway to Antarctica. The only way to drive to Punta Arenas from the city of Santiago is to drive through the country of Argentina, as the mountain range north of the city does not lend itself to roads.

Charlie and I spent the day walking around the city. Below are some of the interesting things we saw.

Ancud Monument; a tribute to the schooner Ancud which was the ship sent by Chile in 1843 to claim sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan.

As we were standing near the monument we saw a man riding a horse in the water. Don’t see that every day.

Across the street were some beautiful Murals.

Here are a few photos from an overlook area. You can see our Viking cruise ship through the square of the lock fence.

Lastly, we visited an interesting cemetery.

From Punta Arenas we sailed south, through the Strait of Magellan.

In the morning we woke to the beautiful scenery of the Beagle Channel, and some blue skies. The Beagle Channel is where Charles Darwin made his epic voyage. It is a narrow strait separating the main island of Tierra del Fuego from a string of smaller islands to the south.

We spent the afternoon of Day 7 in Ushuaia, Argentina. Ushuaia sits at the very southern tip of South America. Ushuaia’s history is that of a penal colony. The first inmates arrived in 1896 and the prison operated until 1947. It was the prison at the “End of the World.” In 1947 the prisoners were moved to other prisons in Argentina, but many of the prison employees remained in Ushuaia, as they had fallen in love with the natural beauty that surrounds this city. The city’s population has since grown to around 80,000 residents.

We only had half a day in town and we knew that we were returning in just 2 weeks’ time, to start our Antarctica trip, so we decided to forego seeing the city center and signed up for the Tierra Del Fuego National Park Tour. This is a 150,000-acre park of stunning and diverse landscape.

Our first stop in the park was at Panoramic Point. This is the end of the Pan-American Highway, which you can take all the way to Alaska!

Below are a few photos of wildlife we spotted in and around Ushuaia.

And a few photos from the ship, as we pulled into, and arrived in, Ushuaia.

The following day we sailed around Cape Horn. The Horn marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans meet. As the two oceans collide you can get treacherous seas and high winds. We were lucky on the day we sailed around the island, as it was overcast, but not excessively windy.

The island of Cape Horn is extremely remote. A lighthouse sits alone on top of the rock. The lighthouse is currently staffed by Chilean Navy Second Sergeant, José Luarte (age 38), his wife, and two young children. José recently took over the position, in December 2022. The previous lighthouse keeper was there with his wife and 4 children. The one-year post is voluntary, and oddly, one that is sought after. José recently told a news reporter that he doesn’t mind the isolated post. he said, “At other jobs, I abandon my family for most of the day, but here, where we’re all abandoned, we can be together.”

There is a monument that sits high atop Cape Horn. It is a large sculpture featuring the silhouette of an Albatross in honor of the sailors who died while attempting to ’round the Horn.’

After another day of smooth sailing, we arrived in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands. This British Territory is located 300 miles off the coast of South America. The Falkland Islands encompass several hundred sparsely inhabited islands with unspoiled nature and diverse fauna. There are 5 different species of penguins living in this region. Our goal was to see some King Penguins.

We had originally planned on taking a Viking-offered tour to Volunteer Point, where the King Penguins reside. This tour is 2.5 hours in a 4×4 vehicle, off-roading to the point and then 2.5 hrs back. We believed that this was the only way to get to the point. However, we discovered that there was a helicopter service available. We opted for that route, as it only took 15 minutes to get out to the point! When we arrived at the Point we had it all to ourselves, along with our pilot. We saw King Penguins, Magellanic Penguins, and Gentoos. It was amazing! We strolled around the various penguin colonies for an hour and a half and then flew back to town in time for a British Fish and Chips lunch.

Below are a few of my penguin photos from Volunteer Point. If you’d like to see more photos, or wish to view them in higher quality, check out my photography website:

Below are a few photos from our helicopter flight.

We visited a wonderful museum on the island; the Falkland Islands Museum. The museum has five themed galleries (social, maritime and natural history, the 1982 war, and Gateway to Antarctica). There are also several small outbuildings (old printing press, communications room, and blacksmith shop). The museum was very interesting. We learned a lot about the 1982 war between Argentina and Britain.

Below are some final photos from our walk around the small village of Port Stanley.

We departed the Falkland Islands and sailed for a day before reaching Puerto Madryn, Argentina on Day 12 of our cruise. This region was settled by Welsch settlers during the 19th century. Puerto Madryn and the nearby villages of Trelew and Gaiman, embrace their Welsh heritage and continue some of their ancestor’s traditions.

We took a bus ride to the village of Gaiman for a British afternoon tea with delicious homemade scones and cakes. There wasn’t much to see during the hour bus ride.

We enjoyed tea time, as did Princess Diana, who visited here many years ago.

After tea time we walked around the small village. There wasn’t much at all to see, but we did spot this fella.

Because we took the tour to Gaiman we didn’t have time to explore Puerto Madryn itself. Our tour guide advised that it is a very busy place during the winter months because the bay is full of Whales wintering there. In the summertime, it can be busy because people enjoy the beach.

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

After another day of sailing, we arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay. Charlie and I went off on our own, walking through the old part of town. It was early, so the shops were still closed.

We stumbled upon the Andes 1972 Plane Crash Museum, which was fortunately open. This museum honors the survivors of the plane crash that occurred on October 13, 1972. The plane was carrying a Uruguay rugby Team, along with their families, supporters, and friends. Initially, 32 people survived the crash, out of the 45 passengers and crew. At almost 4000 meters above sea level, with neither appropriate clothing nor food, surrounded and trapped in the Andes Mountains, the survivors were virtually doomed to perish. For ten days they waited to be rescued. Then they heard on a small pocket receiver that the search had been called off. It was 72 days before a rescue occurred. In the end, only 16 people survived. The museum does a fabulous job of covering the hardships the survivors had to endure. It highlights the Uruguayan values of solidarity, teamwork, and friendship. For more information on the crash check out this website:

The owner of the museum suggested that we catch a local bus and take it to the suburb of Carrasco, where he lives. He suggested a great restaurant in the area. It sounded like a great idea, so we heeded his suggestion. We arrived at the Garcia in time for an early lunch, before the restaurant filled up.

We walked through the neighborhood after lunch. Got a good laugh at this store name 🙂 Didn’t know you could just buy those!

When we returned to the old city center of Montevideo we toured the Salvo Palace. This building was built on the site where Gerardo Matos Rodriguez wrote his tango La Cumparsita in 1917. In honor of that, there is a Tango Museum in the building, which we visited. The building was originally intended to be a hotel, but the plan did not work out. It is now a mixture of long-term residences and offices. Oddly enough, the original design also called for a lighthouse at the top of the building. While they never built the lighthouse, you can see that the top of the building resembles the style of one.

View from the top of the Building:

The Tango Museum:

Below are a few more photos from our tour around town:

Our cruise ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Because we spent a few days in Buenos Aires I will do a separate blog post on that.

We had a fabulous time traveling around South America with Viking Cruise Lines. There were a lot of sea days on this particular cruise, which we actually enjoyed. As you’ve probably realized Charlie and I are constantly on the go. The cruise days forced us to slow down and take it easy. We appreciated that. The highlight of the trip was definitely seeing the penguins in the Falkland Islands.

Stay tuned for the Buenos Aires and Antarctica posts. I’ll try to get them out soon. Our family is going through quite a bit right now so it may take a little while, but hopefully not too long.

2 thoughts on “Viking’s South America & Chilean Fjords Cruise (12/17/22 – 1/06/23)

  1. I could not love these penguin photos more! They’re just awesome!

    Certainly the experience of a lifetime being on those beaches with all these adorable creatures by yourself.

    And while I understand your wish for better weather early on, I think the photos came out beautifully. I especially appreciate the black and white ones. So much drama in those images!

    I look forward to the next installment.

    1. Thanks, Laura. It definitely was an experience of a lifetime, walking with all of those penguins out in the wild. I thoroughly enjoyed the helicopter ride too! I will agree with you, that as I went through my photos in preparation for the blog I discovered that I liked the stark definition found in the black-and-white landscape shots. A different format for me, but necessary due to the weather.
      We will see you in a month. Looks like April 7th will be the best day to get together. Hope that works. I’ll reach out as we get closer.

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